I was blog-walking yesterday when I stumbled upon an article written by a teacher in America about ethics in teaching. What kind of topics you shouldn’t discuss with your student and things you can’t do as a teacher. I was horrified when I read the list for most of it I had done it! Although some of it I agree with, like: teacher shouldn’t sell material goods in the class, including our written works. I had some lecturer in my uni who told us to buy some books for our reading material (and our assignments would be based on the books), true he didn’t sell it himself but when I got hold onto the book, his name was written as the author. It was so appalling.. (plus, the book wasn’t that good).
The list also says not to be your student therapist and viceversa. I agree with this one too, not only teacher-student relationship, I think every relationship in a work place shouldn’t get too personal. I had session with my uni students about relationship, and they were happy to spill their stories in the group. It was okay until they asked me : what about yours? It’s a bit tricky because I don’t want to look unfair since they told me theirs. But of course they were pretty young compared to me and my relationships way more complicated than theirs, it is tempting to spill some of your relationship things to eager listeners but what the doctor said in her article was true : student might remember this detail years and years after rather than the context of the lesson. So I briefly said, yes I’m in a relationship with a crazy guy that has been my good friend for years. Those little details satisfied them enough. But please no details about the crazy break-ups.
But some that I don’t agree with : teacher shouldn’t accept gifts from students. I love gifts! And I know my students love giving me gifts. Haha. Yesterday I just got a belated birthday gift from my student, a big metal pink flower pendant. So we made a class rule : we shouldn’t forget each others birthdays and try to give a birthday gift. It doesn’t have to be something expensive – better – if you make it yourself. A drawing, a handmade card, anything. 🙂 I think it’s nice if somebody remembers your birthday and actually do something about it. We live in an era where advance communication technology just won’t let us forget every single thing like birthday, so getting a birthday wishes is just common. I still remember the day facebook and friendster don’t exist and getting a birthday wishes in texts or phone calls from friends is just nice. I guess because facebook does that for us now, we should take more effort to show our affections to our friends. 🙂 I say ‘yay’ to gifts. 🙂
Another is: teachers shouldn’t befriend their students. To some extend, I agree. I witness some of my colleagues who just went the distance for their students – I don’t think that’s appropriate. They’re still your students who look up for your guidance, not your friends. But I must say, teachers should be friend for their students. Students in this country, especially my generation and before, who tasted the bitter dutch-military method of educating where corporal punishments was acceptable and when teacher was the general whom you shouldn’t disrespect in any way possible, we grew to hate schools. We found the place was prison-like and the teacher, who were supposed to help us, put some distance with us, made it harder for us to actually learn. I don’t want that with my students, I want them to be able to say what’s in their minds freely to me (in respectful ways, of course), I want be able to help them and be accessible to them when they need me. But I’m not their peers nor their mates, I think I just want to put some new definition to the word teacher. It’s there between friends and parents.
Still on the list : teachers shouldn’t preach about their religious beliefs and political beliefs. I’m not saying that I disagree with this. I found it disgusting how some teachers, preachers, lecturers put their insight into a lesson. I think anybody that has authority to speak in front of people and has the power of being heard have to be really careful about what to say. Religion and politics are two things that considered sensitive and it can be dangerous topic since they are really personal. But I’ve done some debates involving those topics and it went okay, great actually. I guess it’s really important for our young people to accept that being different is okay and if you find friends or colleagues who don’t share the same ideology with yours, it’s healthy to be involved in a debate and learn something from differences. I personally think that it will broaden your horizon and avoid future fanatics.
Overall, I don’t think there are certain ‘commandments’ when you’re a teacher. However, now I’m reading Ron Clark’s book : The Excellent 11 and I like his first : be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is contagious, so when you are really enthusiastic in what you’re doing, your students can see it, and they become enthusiastic toward the subject too. Not because they love grammar, but because they see how it drives you and want to be part of it.
I was reading the book and at the same time googling and looking for materials for my classes when I remember about my students. How enthusiastic they were and I just felt a sudden joy because maybe without me realizing it, I am enthusiastic about what I’m doing. And they’ve caught the virus. 🙂